Monday, February 15, 2010

Dull/Not Sharp

I seem to have an issue with my food photos. Try as I may, I can't fully conquer lighting issues. I submit my images to TasteSpotting and FoodGawker only to be declined time and time again. The most frequent comments on the rejections are regarding lighting, composition, and of course, "dull/not sharp."

Just as in the kitchen, I have absolutely no formal training behind the camera. Everything I do is through trial and error. From time to time, I have bookmarked informative sites full of tips and tricks for food photography, but let's face it, my attention span isn't long enough to read them, let alone actually implement any of the advice.

My camera is also very inexpensive (Canon Powershot A550) and has been dropped a time or two. The lens was even jammed half in and half out after one unfortunate kiss of the concrete. It has seen better days, but for my limited skills and budget, it does the job...except for those pesky rejections. (Thank goodness for TasteStopping.)

It seems that it has come to the point where I have to decide if I really want to work to improve my photos, or if I am OK with being labeled as Dull/Not Sharp. While I want my photo quality to be good enough for you to want to try the recipe, I am not sure I want to invest more time/money/energy in them. It is important to me that all parts of this blog remain fun. I don't want to feel like I am tied to a ball and chain of yet more work. There is enough going on in my life that I don't enjoy; this blog and producing photos for it should never fall into that category. I think that I would rather play with the food On My Plate than with the camera.

So for now, you will have to suffer through my Dull/Not Sharp photos to accompany my tried and true recipes. I think that I have a doozy for you today. Green Beans with Garlic, Basil and Cherry Tomatoes has been in mind to share almost since the beginning of On My Plate. Its bright and crisp (not dull/not sharp) flavors have been paired as a side with many meals, but I have never managed an acceptable photo. Today was not an exception. The afternoon light glared on the beans making them appear greasy. Appetizing, huh? Sorry. Please forgive the photo and grab the recipe. You will be sorry if you decline to sample Green Beans with Garlic, Basil and Cherry Tomatoes On YOUR Plate.

Green Beans with Garlic, Basil and Cherry Tomatoes

1 1/2 pounds fresh green beans
1 tablespoon butter
2 cloves garlic, minced

1 tablespoon sugar

2-3 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped

kosher salt

fresh ground black pepper

1/2 pint cherry or grape tomatoes (halved if large)

Bring large pot of salted water to boil and add beans; simmer until tender.
In large skillet or saute pan, melt butter.
Add garlic, sugar, basil, salt and pepper.
Add tomatoes; cook until heated, but not mushy.
Add the drained beans and toss to coat with the garlic/basil butter. (Serves 4)


  1. I think you photos are always just fine. These beens look yummy. We will be trying them as soon as I can get some fresh basil. My plant didn't make it through the winter, even though I had it on the kitchen windowsil.


  2. I think your photos fine...better than fine. I never bother with entering any of mine because I didn't want to get caught up in the hype and stress of trying to measure up to someone else's standards. It wasn't the point of my blog. With that said I would like to get better at the photography end of things but that's for me and not tastespotting. I also think that a better camera will not make for better photos. I think good photos have a lot to do with how interesting the food looks "on your plate" (ha-ha!!) and the lighting. Look at yourself you don't have a fancy schmancy camera but you still post good photos. anyway that's my two cents for what it's worth!

  3. I agree - your photos are definitely above average. Food photography is so difficult, I think you are doing a great job.

  4. Your photos are great...and love your blog which is more important!

    I found it by the way in this month's South Dakota Magazine! I passed it on to my sister-in-laws who both live in Northern Minnesota. We exhange recipes all the time.

  5. As a subscriber to Bernie Hunhoff's SOUTH DAKOTA magazine we came upon the article about you, and this blog there. Living in a cabin in the Colorado Rockies most our meals are home-cooked. After browsing your blog for a few minutes, you've warmed up and juiced up our taste buds. Thank you for that.

    Photography! You've touched upon something Keith has been evolving into since we retired back in '02. He has the South Dakota love of the outdoors and the critters and tweeties in their natural surroundings. He belongs to a photo sharing site on the web that site is populated with some prolific amateurs, many with the combination of a great eye, the technical skills and equipment to make some very nice photos. Perhaps just such a group could be a place for you to display your food photos, and receive some very constructive tips and hints, resulting in some success in having some of your photos published. Since joining that group, Keith has had quite a few of his photographs published in the Audubon Guides, so we can attest to some success through that group.

    You have a very appealing blog here, we'll be back often.

    Diane and Keith
    South Park, Colorado

  6. Found you via SOUTH DAKOTA MAGAZINE. Did you see the movie JULIE & JULIA? If not, you should! You're just like "Julie."

    I'd rather be Dull/Not Sharp than not trying at all.

    Be well.
    Amy in Yankton, SD

  7. Thanks so much for the shout out in your post. I'm glad that TasteStopping is here to shine a light on all the "dull/unsharp" photos in the food blogging community. But, for what it's worth, I think your grean bean photo in this post is stunning. Of course, I may not be the right person to ask. :D

    Thanks again,


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